Americans should beware of potentially fraudulent election emails ahead of upcoming election
Voting is a sacred American right. But this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans will be casting their ballots differently – many by mail.
Scammers are taking advantage of this year’s unprecedented election, not to win someone’s vote, but to try to steal their personal information.
National security officials announced this week that Russia and Iran got ahold of voter registration data from countless Americans in an effort to try to influence the upcoming election with bogus or threatening emails.
“Some might be just fraudsters, some might be criminal actors, some might be foreign adversaries,” says FBI Special Agent Craig McLaughlin.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are warning people to be aware of malicious emails disguised as election information.
One such email suggests that there is a program with someone’s voter registration and asks them to click on a link that leads to a malicious website.
The cybersecurity company Proofpoint says that another email asks people to open a word document that contains malware.
“People always need to be alert…when they received something that’s unsolicited. Don’t be pressured into clicking on a link or responding with information,” McLaughlin says.
One way to spot fake election emails is to look for a spoofed domain. Most government websites end in .gov. Voters should be caution if they see a domain that ends in something else like .com or .net.
Other times links may look like they are coming from a government email. But if one were to look at the link information, they will see that it is coming from someplace completely different.
Voters should also check for misspellings, as they could indicate that the message is a scam. Verify information with a trusted source, like the county clerk’s office.
Update anti-virus software, and don’t open unsolicited emails or attachments or communicate with people who send unsolicited emails. And never provide personal information by email.
“If it doesn't fit the smell test for them, then they should kind of verify that through other means, because there is a lot of information out there at the state, local and federal level about the elections and we want people to have access to that,” McLaughlin says.